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For Immediate Release

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Press Release

Groups Tell Department of Labor: Act on Climate Risks to Retirement Savings

WASHINGTON -

Today marks the close of the public comment period on a proposed rulemaking from the Department of Labor that would restore flexibility to managers of pension funds and retirement accounts to consider the environment, social justice, and corporate governance in making investments and voting on shareholder proposals.

The proposed rule would undo a push by the Trump administration to impose additional costs and burdens meant to discourage fund managers of private employer-sponsored retirement plans from considering climate change in their decision making.  

The Sierra Club and Americans for Financial Reform Education Fund submitted a comment letter today, signed by 12 groups, supporting the proposed rule and detailing additional actions DOL can take to strengthen protections for retirement savings from systemic risks like the climate crisis. Thousands of public comments were also submitted to DOL urging the department to go further by requiring fund managers to consider climate risk and provide options for savers who want to invest in sustainable businesses. 

“For far too long, fund managers have gambled with workers’ retirement funds by placing bets on risky fossil fuels, ignoring the risks the climate crisis poses to our society and our economy. This proposed rule would be a critical step toward protecting workers and retirees from the devastating impact climate change could have on their life savings,” said Sierra Club Fossil-Free Finance Campaign Manager Ben Cushing. “But DOL must go further. Given the scale of the climate-related risks facing our financial system, considering these risks cannot just be an option for plan managers. It must be a requirement for them to do their fiduciary duty and protect retirees from the financial impacts of the climate crisis.”

"The DOL was right to move quickly to restore discretion to fiduciaries to consider climate and other sustainability factors, which have become core components of modern investing and must be integrated into a prudent investment process," said Americans for Financial Reform Sr. Policy Analyst Alex Martin. "Typical retirement savers with long investment horizons and broad ownership of the market are facing multiple systemic threats to their retirement income, including climate change and growing racial and economic inequality. Fiduciaries must be able to take these matters into account to protect the long term economic security of workers and retirees."

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The Sierra Club is the most enduring and influential grassroots environmental organization in the United States. We amplify the power of our 3.8 million members and supporters to defend everyone’s right to a healthy world.

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